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Attorney General Lockyer, District Attorney File Lawsuits to Protect Water Quality of San Joaquin County
(STOCKTON) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced the filing of lawsuits in San Joaquin County Superior Court to keep four dairies from polluting waterways with cattle manure runoffs. The four lawsuits filed jointly with San Joaquin County District Attorney John Phillips also seek civil penalties from the dairies for failure to clean up the problem.
"These dairies are operating like a small city without a sewage treatment plant," Lockyer said. "By continuing to ignore state clean-up and abatement orders, the four dairies are threatening the water quality not only of local sloughs and ditches, but also the San Joaquin River which is used for recreation and drinking supplies."
Named in the lawsuit were the Lucky J Dairy near Tracy operated by Bruce Kimbrough; ManJean Holsteins near Stockton operated by Manuel Borges; the Quaresma & Sons Dairy near Manteca operated by Raymond J. Quaresma Sr.; and Machado & Machado Dairy, also near Manteca, operated by David and Robert Machado.
The four dairies were issued clean-up and abatement orders in spring 1998 by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board after untreated manure was discharged into nearby waterways. Laboratory tests found the wastewater in the sloughs and ditches near the dairies to be toxic to aquatic life. Among other things, the abatement orders directed the dairies to improve their facilities to prevent further wastewater runoffs.
State investigators found large volumes of animal waste at the Lucky J Dairy to be flowing routinely into roadside ditches and over the roadway at the dairy itself. One discharge estimated at 50,000 gallons flowed miles toward the San Joaquin River.
At the ManJean Holsteins, excess waste was found to have escaped from a field into a roadside ditch and Temple Creek. The discharge has occurred on and off for more than 15 years.
At the Quaresma & Sons Dairy and neighboring Machado & Machado Dairy, an estimated 30,000 gallons of wastewater were found to have been discharged from some 2,400 cows into an agricultural drain and the Walthall Slough, which flows into the San Joaquin River.
Dairies and feedlots with concentrated livestock are required to manage animal waste discharges to protect the watershed from ammonia, nitrates, sediment and microbial pathogens associated with manure. A mature dairy cow generates more than 110 pounds of waste each day. Environmental experts compare a dairy housing 1000 or more cows to a city without a sewage treatment plant.
The cases were investigated by an environmental task force that includes the California Department of Justice, San Joaquin County District Attorney's office, the California Environmental Protection Agency, state Department of Fish and Game and US Attorney's Office.